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Daniel Nardicio’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure at Warsaw’s Europride

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jul 30, 2010

On Saturday, July 17, about 8,000 LGBT Poles and others from around Europe marched through Warsaw in the Polish capital's Gay Pride march. This was supposed to have happened five years ago, but then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski, an outspoken opponent of gay rights, banned the march.

A group of Polish activists successfully sued to get rid of the ban in the European Court of Human Rights. But winning in court doesn't mean winning hearts and minds of the vast majority of Poles, who cling to their conservative social and religious views.

Daniel Nardicio, who has made a name for himself in New York promoting underground parties where clothes are as scarce as inhibitions, has more recently expanded his mini-empire of sleaze into other ventures -- including Playgirl magazine, which he revamped. His championing of Levi Johnston, the baby daddy of Sarah Palin's granddaughter, put him in the front lines of the political and gossip columns.

Nothing, however, prepared Nardicio for what he would encounter on that hot summer weekend in Warsaw. In an exclusive interview with EDGE, Daniel tells of the pride, the passion -- and the persecution -- he encountered.


Impresario into the Whirlwind

Daniel came to Warsaw at the invitation of some of the organizers of events surrounding the Europride march. He brought some New York City nightlife luminaries, such as Amanda Lapore, Sherry Vine, gogo boys, Lady Bunny and some bulesque queens.

What happened was unexpected and unfortunate. "All these people didn’t get paid," he says. "We were booked into a room at a Polish club. The organizers had no intention of paying the entertainers. It was absolute chaos."

A club owner asked Daniel to sign a paper that he would pay for the club. "I explained that in no way was I taking on the financial responsibility," he says. "I was curating, not producing."

Also on hand were gay luminaries, such as Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the film Milk.


On the Front Lines

"We kept meeting all these gay guys who told us, ’We’re not going to the parade,’" Daniel says. "Polish gays are afraid to come out. But we put ourselves on the front line -- which turned out to be dangerous."

There were 11 floats in the parade, which, according to the New York Times, attracted only 8,000 people. That contrasts with 50,000 at the Europride celebration in Zurich, Switzerland, the year before.


Not Much Help from Police

Black had asked if the police were holding back the protesters. In Daniel’s opinion, they were only doing so because of the presence of the international press and photographers and bloggers covering the event on the Internet.

"There was no love from the police," he says. "I was afraid for my boyfriend on a float."


’We Represent the Majority’

The police were (barely) holding back protesters from well-organized right-wing group opposed to liberalization and to homosexuality in particular.

The head of an ultra-conservative group, All-Polish Youth, which drew several hundred, told the New York Times he represented the majority of Poles.

"Polish society is much more conservative than the establishment," Robert Winnicki said. "Polish society is more passive. People do not take part in the public debate. We are the voice of the majority."


Eggs, Stares & Fingers

Daniel personally experienced eggs being thrown at him and those around him. There were also firecrackers and other tiny incendiary devices.

More than those, however, were the nasty stares coming from the housewives and others in the windows along the route. Throughout the route, people were "flipping the bird" at the marchers.


Polish & Other Heroes

"My personal heroes were these straight women who stayed the whole day," Daniel says. "They had eggs, firecrackers thrown at them. I was flipped off at least 200 times. After a while, it gets to you."

There were people from all over Europe who had come to show solidarity, which also impressed Daniel. One of the members of a gay choir from London was hit with a rock.


In the end, was it worth losing the money and the hassles and the time and the hatred?

"My boyfriend thought was something uplifting," Daniel opines. "He was proud to be part of the beginning of something here. I look at the money I lost as a donation to the Polish Gay Pride movement. I do know -- I hope -- I never experience anything like that again."

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


Comments

  • , 2010-07-30 18:40:56

    So sad that my country folk are so backward. I love Poland but stories like this make me glad to live in the USA. When I visit Poland, what strikes me the most is that gays are underground and afraid to come out for those reasons. With small steps, we will move forward. I came out to my old neighbors, all were very supportive in my small town of Zakopane. Didn’t get a rock in the head.


  • , 2010-08-01 21:21:44

    much too exaggerated, maybe because Mr. Nardicio has never had experiences like this one before. yes, there were plenty aggresive objectors at the beginning, as usual, but after getting out of the first square, it got quite nice and easy (as usual). the policemen got also more friendly, they even didn’t wear their uniforms. on the way there were also people standing around on the street, and others in the windows, which have greeted the march with joy and rainbow flags. or should we compare this one with the march in Cracow just few years ago, which has ended as a bloodstained battle and some houndreds of wounded people on both sides? it’s also not what it seems, that there were no parades in Warsaw since the banned one back there in 2005. they are going every year since, only this time Warsaw has hosted EuroPride, which eventually was the first time in Eastern Europe. and I can assure you, it was the obvious choice - you wouldn’t like to see it in Sofia, Bucarest or even Budapest, where the things are going much more nasty. Poland is really changing right now. the other problem is the organizers and the money-thing. the way they have lead the parades year after year results in very little support from gay people, even organizations and activists. they can really discourage people and damage the image of Poland and polish gay movement. I’m very sorry for what happened to Mr. Nardicio and his crew, unfortunatelly I have to say, it was also typical. EP2010 was so dissapointing, that it seems, they won’t do it next year again. I really hope so.


  • , 2010-08-02 19:40:27

    Mr Nardicio didnt exaggerate anything. I was involved in the parade as well, and was pelted with eggs, and fire bombs onto our float. This is NOT usual. Not usual or typical in anyway. This is hate, and it is violent and ugly. Hopefully all involved helped make atleast a little bit of a change to the small minded people and gave hope to the others.


  • , 2010-08-05 03:48:02

    Ladies and Gentlemen. As the organizer of EuroPride 2010 in Warsaw, I owe a few words of explanation on Daniel Nordicio and events organized by him, After Dark. First of all, EuroPride organizers did not come to Daniel but Daniel came to the organizers. Agreement was drawn up which clearly regulates the financial affairs between the parties. Mr. Daniel Nordicio was not only the organizer of the After Dark events, and not only a promoter as claimed. The contract clearly states that he should cover all costs associated with their organization. Just as he had to cover all costs, just as all proceeds were to go into the account of Daniel Nordicio. EuroPride organizers had the slightest influence on the events and most importantly, had no economic benefits of the organized events. Mr. Daniel Nordicio forgot to add that on the main event, when he realized that not everything goes to his thoughts, just escaped. Even at night, packed their belongings and fled from the Polish, with no cover liabilities to which he was obliged. He left without payment of remuneration of artists, who were invited by him and with who he had daily contact. As the organizers of EuroPride, we did not negotiate any contracts and we have not had the slightest contact with the artists. In our humble opinion, Daniel Nordicio should be ashamed of his behavior and how he has treated us and artists. Please also note that on the basis of a contract signed between us, the organizers EuroPride gets to court, assert their rights, both financial (EuroPride organizer covers some costs of Daniel Nordicio) and about libel, which takes place in the commented article.


  • , 2010-08-05 08:38:46

    In what sort of world this guys lives? What was he expecting happy faces all over the place? Beside it is exaggeration. I was marching there as well. If he looks like he looks i’m not suprised he got stares. But than again i’ve seen planty of people on their balconies waving to us, police was ok. Didn’t have any sort of problems with them. Hopefully we will not see him again cuz his little weird face might get destroyed by all this nasty people around. Get a life men.


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